English Vocabulary – Five Pairs of Commonly Confused English Words

Commonly Confused English Words

1. Beside vs Besides

Beside (preposition): next to or at the side of someone or something 

The girl standing beside Tom is Mary. 

Besides (preposition): in addition to/apart from someone or something

Besides working as a teacher, she also writes freelance for a fashion magazine.

 

2. Principle vs Principal

Principle (noun; usually plural): a moral rule or a strong belief that influences your actions

Lucy will not lie as she has high moral principles. 

Principle (noun): a law, a rule or a theory that something is based on

The syllabus covers basic principles of accounting. 

Principal (adjective): most important; main

Tourist revenue is the country’s principal source of wealth.

Principal (noun): the person who is in charge of a school

John is the principal of Hillview High School. 

 

3. Compliment vs Complement

Compliment (noun): a remark that expresses praise or admiration of someone 

It is a great compliment to be asked to be the guest-of-honour. 

Compliments (noun; plural): polite words or good wishes, especially when used to express praise and admiration

Please give my compliments to the wonderful chef.

Compliment (verb): to tell someone that you like or admire something he/she has done, etc.

He complimented Betsy on her new hairstyle.

Complement (verb): to add to something in a way that improves it or makes it more attractive

The excellent menu is complemented by a good wine list.

 

4. Access vs Assess

Access (noun): a way of entering or reaching a place

The burglars gained access through a broken window.

Access (verb): reach, enter or use something

This room can only be accessed by authorised personnel.

Assess (verb): to make a judgement about the nature or quality of someone/something

The government will assess how well the new system works.

 

5. Emigrate vs Immigrate 

Emigrate (verb): to leave your own country to go and live permanently in another country

The family left India in 1975 and emigrated to the United States.

Immigrate (verb): to come and live permanently in a country after leaving your own country

About 6.6 million people immigrated to the United States in the 1970s.

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

Categories: English 101
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